Attorneys representing Planned Parenthood filed suit against Ohio in a federal court on Sunday in order to stop political officials in the state from blocking the ability of women to access abortions and other healthcare services.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of three individual clinics where abortions are performed, is seeking a restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the state of Ohio following a report issued by the office of the Attorney General stating that fetal tissue was being improperly disposed of by Planned Parenthood—a charge the reproductive health services organization vehemently denies.
The probe by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office was first established to find out if any of the clinics in the state were selling fetal tissue, but determined this was not the case. However, following Friday's publication of the investigation's findings, DeWine said he was still considering taking legal action against Planned Parenthood for mishandling the disposal of such material.
Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, said the allegations represent total falsehoods and are nothing more than an attempt to undermine women's health and right to safe and legal abortion care. In defense of the organization, as Reuters reports, Kight explained that the Ohio Department of Health had inspected Planned Parenthood's health centers annually for the past decade, and at no time raised concerns about the disposal practices.
"The state is now claiming that Planned Parenthood is in violation of this regulation, despite the fact that for decades, Planned Parenthood has followed these regulations and has never been cited by the state for violation," Kight said on Sunday.
"As we have always maintained, and as the Attorney General has now confirmed, the original accusations that Planned Parenthood "sold fetal tissue" were completely unfounded and untrue," Kight had said earlier in response to the claims made by DeWine. "These new allegations by the Attorney General that we are improperly disposing of fetal tissue are flat-out false. Planned Parenthood handles medical tissue like any other quality health care provider. Our agreements with vendors all require them to follow state law, and dispose of tissue accordingly. If they are not, then I will take swift action."
As DeWine received the backing of Republican Governor John Kasich, who is currently running for the GOP presidential nomination, Kight said the recent challenge over how its clinics dispose of fetal tissue is just the latest attempt by Ohio's right-wing political leadership to curb the constitutionally protected right to have an abortion.
"This is an administration that has done everything possible to eliminate access to abortion in Ohio—secretly writing laws, working to close health centers, and even appointing the head of Ohio Right to Life to the state medical board," she said. "We are seriously concerned that this report is not the result of meaningful investigation, but instead yet another attack on women’s access to health care in the state of Ohio intended to end our ability to continue to provide safe, legal abortion."
In states across the U.S. in recent years, as Common Dreams has reported extensively, Republican lawmakers have been involved in a coordinated effort to both undermine women's healthcare and limit access to safe and legal abortions.